School Board narrowly passes budget request

Saying more money should be allocated to teachers, two Fluvanna County School Board members voted against the proposed fiscal year 2018 (FY18) budget Wednesday (Feb. 8). 

Despite the dissent of Perrie Johnson (Fork Union) and Charles Rittenhouse (Cunningham), the budget passed. 

“Instructional is the only [budget] category trending downward,” Johnson said before the vote. “Instructional used to be 78 percent of the total. In this one it’s 73.3 percent. I’d like to see a budget that allocates more funds to instruction and staff.”

Rittenhouse echoed Johnson’s remark. “I think we should spend more on the classroom,” he said.

School Board Chair Carol Carr (Rivanna) said she understands the important role of technology.

“I feel strongly technology is critical to the advancement of our schools,” Carr said. “There are more and more requirements in career and technical classrooms and I think it’s valuable. Even though the percentages are changing, there are reasons for that.”

Carr, Camilla Washington (Columbia) and Brenda Pace (Palmyra) all voted for the proposed budget. They will present the budget, which totals $39,845,315, to the Board of Supervisors Feb. 15. The amount of money schools are asking from the county is $17,357,607. This is an increase of $472,292 from last year’s local funding.

Although this meeting was advertised as the time for the public to weigh in on the budget, not one person spoke.

Brenda Gilliam, director of curriculum and instruction, shared the results of a survey on the proposed 2017-2018 school calendar. Students who took the survey preferred the first option which ended school on May 19. Most others preferred the second option with school ending May 23, giving students and teachers one more day off during Christmas break.

The Board took a first look at proposed changes to policy language on renting school buses. Wording on the purpose of school bus use was eliminated. Language about the superintendent authorizing school bus use and reporting specifics to the Board was added. The Board will vote on the proposal at the March 8 meeting.

Katrina Lee, director of special education, gave an overview of the Piedmont Regional Educational Program. By taking part in the program that provides funds for all Fluvanna students with special needs, the cost to Fluvanna of supplying those services is reduced from $926,070 to $165,701.

February is School Board appreciation month. Each principal told the Board about the gift their students made. Amy Barnabei, principal of West Central Primary, said she explained to her students about the School Board so that they understood who they were and what they did.

“They knew you because you are around so much. So thank you,” Barnabei said.  

James Koczan and Matt Morrison briefed the Board on a planned student trip to Italy. Students will visit Florence and Rome from June 7-16. The cost for each student is $3,855 which doesn’t include meals, tips, baggage fees and spending money. At least 21 must sign up by Feb. 17. For more information visit www.eftours.com/1812090SX.